Evidence is mounting that Northern Ireland is failing. A different constitutional future seems increasingly likely
A powerful new play has just opened at Belfast’s Lyric theatre. The Border Game, by Michael Patrick and Oisín Kearney, is a fractured love story and a sharp political satire about the legacy of partition. Its setting is an abandoned customs hut on boggy ground beside a broken barbed-wire fence that marks the border between Northern Ireland, where Henry lives, and the Republic, where Sinead lives. The play is moving, honourable, and just a little bit messy. You get the impression the ending might change in the course of its run. But somehow this rawness at the edges seems quite befitting.
The former lovers, who still appear to be in love, attempt to tell each other why they separated, each of them wounded by the conviction that it was the choice of the other. They have survived, but they are haunted by the proximity of others who did not. There is a ruinous sense of responsibility to the dead. Resorting to desperate hilarity, they come up with a word: “Borderfucked. Twelve letters. The condition of being fucked economically, socially and psychologically due to the stroke of a pen. Common in Ireland, the Middle East, and all over the fucking world.”
Susan McKay is an Irish writer and journalist whose books include Northern Protestants – On Shifting Ground